Spend a few minutes with Minnesota Twins top prospect Royce Lewis and you’ll realize he’s not like anyone else — let alone others his age.
Lewis, who won’t turn 20 until June 5, has the kind of transcendent personality that can alter the course of a franchise, and that’s in addition to his tremendous talent on the field. You’ll find him at or around the top 10 on any prospect list coming out this spring — and that’s across all of baseball — but it’s his warmth and engagement that stand out if a person spends even a small amount of time around him.
Lewis clearly came up as a child of means — his family owns winery/restaurants in Tustin, Calif., and the surrounding area — but it’s a testament to his upbringing that the word often associated with the young man is humility.
It’s not by coincidence, either.
Humility is a weird buzzword in pro sports circles. People like their athletes “humble” in the public eye, but the reality is that the level of competition requires a player to think they’re one of, if not the overall best at what they do.
But humility has a real place in everyday life, and it’s something Lewis doesn’t want to lose sight of as he’s on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues — perhaps before he even turns 21.
“It means kind of staying true to yourself and respecting others at the same time,” Lewis told Zone Coverage at TwinsFest last month when asked what the word means to him. “Respecting that you’re blessed in this world — especially in our position. We’re just blessed enough and trying to give back to others, and keeping that same mindset as if we weren’t this blessed.”
Royce’s humility is rooted in faith — his Christian faith — and how he and his family want to reflect Christ in their everyday life.
“My mom (Cindy) and I especially have stronger faith,” Lewis said. “My dad and my sister are always busy doing something. With my dad’s schedule it’s hard to get him out (to church), but either way, our faith is still strong. We just want to point back toward Christ. Especially once I got drafted, we knew it was truly a blessing and we needed to hone that in.”
Part of Royce showing his humility was working in high school with a foundation called NEGU, which is short for “Never Ever Give Up!” It’s a foundation that helps children fight pediatric cancer — a cause Royce said touched his heart immediately.
“During my high school career I actually did a lot of work with pediatric cancer,” Royce said. “So the foundation we went to was NEGU. I liked that. I fell in love with that foundation. It hit home and hit my heart first. I told my mom, ‘I think I’d like to donate to that organization, is there any way you can reach out?’ So she reached out, and we talked to a guy named Cory down there who’s a great young man. He helps us out.”
The Twins took Royce with the No. 1 pick in 2017, and by the end of the year, he had ascended all the way to Low-A Cedar Rapids. For some context, it’s very similar to the Joe Mauer career path, which resulted in the local boy reaching the big leagues by his fourth professional season.
That would place Lewis in Minneapolis on Opening Day 2020 — not that far away, when you really think about it.
But when Lewis started playing pro ball, he also started wearing some flashy looking jewelry. It’s not uncommon for players to spend thousands of dollars on gaudy diamonds and gems to adorn their ear lobes or necks, but Royce wasn’t about that.
So his mom Cindy found a way to make her son jewelry that not only looked great, but was affordable.
And thus, Humility Chains were born. Well, at least the concept was.
Players started asking Royce about them and he’d sort of just shrug and say that his mom made them and that she wasn’t selling them or anything.
But as more players persisted — like teammates Akil Baddoo, Ben Rodriguez, Ben Rortvedt and a lot of his teammates at Cedar Rapids — Royce came up with an idea.
“Right when I got to Cedar Rapids the first year — late 2017,” Lewis said about when he adorned the prototype for the first Humility Chain. “My mom started making them for me. In the middle of 2018, guys started asking about them, like ‘Hey, where’d you get that?’ I told them my mom makes them, and they’d ask how much to buy one. I’d say ‘I don’t think we’re selling them right now.’
“About a month later, I kept talking to my mom about it and told her I thought we should start doing that. I think a lot of people would get it. She did, and now we’ve sold over 365 of them.”
Cindy’s involvement was instrumental to the process — in more ways than just making the chains.
“I was making them and shipping to him to sell, but it became overwhelming for him,” Cindy said. “So I decided to make an Etsy account to eliminate Royce from the process. We wanted to offer an affordable, stylish and comfortable chain for everyone to wear as a reminder to always remain humble and to give back when possible.”
There’s a very motherly aspect that goes into making each of these chains — which she makes by hand — and it’s more than just the care that goes into each one.
“It is therapeutic for me and a great way to stay connected with my son,” Cindy said. “I am always sharing new ideas with him. He wears the chains daily; usually two at a time layering them and matching with his outfits!”
Ultimately, though, Cindy says that she wants everything to point back toward the importance of humility, and for the focus to be on NEGU — and bringing awareness to the cause.
“That we all have a responsibility to be kind humble people who give back to others,” Cindy said when asked about the most important message these chains convey. “We are supporting the NEGU Foundation and trying to bring as much awareness to it.
“My goal is to make sure everyone who supports Humility Chains is 100 percent satisfied as it is a representation of who we are and what we represent.”
It remains incredible how down-to-earth Royce has remained as a professional baseball player. He was the first overall pick, a child from an upper-class family and he received a nearly $7 million signing bonus.
That’s the kind of stuff that sells rap albums — not necklaces shining the spotlight on someone else.
“Honestly just kind of staying the same as I was before,” Lewis said of how he’s managed to stay on an even keel despite his meteoric rise. “(I’m just) the kid who loves life, loves everyone and loves baseball. I just keep that same mentality each and every day and work as hard as I can at the game of baseball and keep going.”
- Interested in buying a Humility Chain? Click here.
- Interested in helping to support NEGU? Click here.